April No.2 2021

Club News – Luncheon on 1st July 2021

Please complete attached attendance slip for July and August and email or post it to me (Ian) secretary@coulsdonprobus.co.uk

Committee Meeting 15th April 2021

Agreed to refund subscriptions for year starting 01/02/2021. Those who have paid will be individually contacted with the option of donating your sub to the Chairman’s Charity.

No decision has been made on the annual subscriptions for following years, but it was noted that:

  1. Average age is 82 and there is a limited life to the club without recruitment of younger members
  2. We have £5,000 in reserve which could meet the luncheon room hire costs for 5 years
  3. Monthly speaker costs (average £75) have been met from lunch charges each month, but as member- ship reduces this will not be possible, so we have agreed that below 15 each month is not viable
  4. If room hire costs and speaker costs were entirely met from reserves, these would last for 3 years.

The Committee agreed to review the situation after three months of resumption of monthly lunches. Members will be consulted on whether the Club can be revived (recruitment).

There will be an open meeting (partners, friends and their partners invited) in October.

We will try and hold a formal Ladies Lunch next January or February if there is member backing. The Quiz will be deferred to 2022. It would be problematic to attract sufficient visitors this year.

SEPPUKU (hara-kiri) by Vincent Fosdike

It had to come one day. The dreaded phone call from the garage. “Could you come down, it’s failed?”

Only an hour or two earlier I had delivered the trusty old Toyota for its M.O.T. confident that as it had passed last year and done under 1,000 miles since then there could not be much wrong. It was still completely reliable even though 20 years old albeit with a leaky roof which could occasionally result in the rubber mats filling with water and needing to be tipped over the side. I did not fancy walking down for a formal meeting; rather like attending a solicitor’s office to hear a will read. So I just asked them to tell me what had happened. Apparently it had burst a brake pipe in the middle of the test but worse still there was corrosion which together with the brake pipe would be about £400 plus VAT to fix. As I said, I knew it had to come one day so there was not much to think about. “Can you scrap it?” “Oh yes, there is no money in it but we could get rid of it, just bring the VS7 (logbook) and it will be gone this afternoon”. My wife and I drove down in our ten-year-old VW to remove the accretion of items and bits of paperwork which were with the corpse. How decent of it to expire with a final burst of brake fluid in the middle of a test and make a clean end of it all, even more faithfully it had held on all the way to the garage.

The funeral arrangements were over in seconds. I presented the birth certificate and they completed an online form whilst I stood solemnly by. Immediately the death certificate emerged from the DVLA (to be more accurate) it was really a certificate of transfer to a “member of the motor trade”. I was assured that I was no longer responsible for the remains and that I did not even have to notify the DVLA as stated on the VS7 form. Apparently, I could check that the registration number would shortly disappear from the DVLA “info site”.

So my wife and I walked out passed the old Toyota having removed all items from it leaving only a trace of sand in the boot from our old Cornish holidays and lots of memories.
Five days later I got a tax refund in the post and the final death certificate from the DVLA. An honourable end to 17 years of uncomplaining service.

Bar Room Reminiscences – White hot heat of technology

More haste less speed as they say. Following on from Denis’s article about his experiences in the Blitz and how we got through it and went on to rebuild old blighty I am drawn to assess just how quickly we achieved post war modernisation. This tiny insight of a working lad’s experience gives just a hint of where we were in the late 1960s vis-à-vis British Manufacturing and technology. I can’t remember which prime minister coined the phrase “white hot heat of technology” but I think it was about this period, i.e. just after “I’m backing Britain” (ah howwell we all remember these inspiring bon mots), when we were urged to do overtime without pay to make us competitive!

I will start with a job interview. It was delivery driving for a local authority. So, I scrubbed up and attended in best jacket and tie (can’t remember which trousers but I must have had some on), as I got through the office side alright. The management side was represented by a smart and positively orientated admin officer, full of the joys of spring whilst the workers rep wore garage overalls. As I was leaving the office I overheard the bright and shiny one mutter to the overalls, “you know which van to give him”. This was to be a driving test on a fleet vehicle round the busy one-way system which had three and sometimes four lanes. The depot was right in the middle of this and required brisk acceleration to cut into the stream. The vehicle had a bench seat and I was to be accompanied by two “overalls”. It had sliding doors and a very approximate three speed steering column gear change. All new to me aged 17 with a two-month- old driving licence.

We clambered aboard and then I was lucky to identify the starter pull button separate from the ignition key. So let’s pretend I know how it all works, switch on, pull the starter. Silence. The middle “overall” spoke, “you can use a crank handle” he smirked whilst adding a quizzical lift of his eyebrow that would have done credit to Roger More. It’s in the back somewhere. I had not yet shut the sliding door so jumped down and went round to the back doors, spotted the crank and strode to the front. It fitted easily. My two-man audience settled in to watch the show. I was on my game now and jumped back into the cab to check neutral gear and switch the ignition back on. Warning lights glowed feebly suggesting the battery was probably left over from armistice day. Back down to the front of the van observed by two laconic pairs of world-weary eyes from their shared bench seat. Fortunately I did know the dangers and techniques needed to swing the engine for they were not about to tell me despite the risk of a broken thumb or wrist.

With a measured upward pull I conquered the apathy of the old Bedford engine and it puffed into life. Jumping back aboard it was my turn to raise an eyebrow to my crew. This old van and its cynical crew were going for a jolly good ride! Getting the gear change to work required the sensitivity of a violinist but today was the good day that our beloved Captain Tom has recently told as was always coming tomorrow. Full gas and into the first gap in the traffic, both sliding doors slide backwards and as a point of honour neither my crew nor myself would close them.

Where do I go I shouted as we closed with the four lanes in earnest. Just keep going round the one-way system the man in the middle seat said. The van was so old I thought the only way to change lanes was to keep in middle gear with my foot hard down, signal early and push across the lanes as necessary. The indicator was a switch in the middle of the dashboard. I had to lean across my navigator to work it whilst holding course with just the one hand. It seemed to work. A small semblance of team spirit was developing as the outside man reached out into the void to give a hand signal to back up the flickering indicators. One more lap the navigator called, by now there was a bit of space ahead and I grabbed top gear still foot to the floor. There was tension in the cockpit, the boys weren’t so sure anymore. Coming up to the final turn it was my pièce de résistance the RACING CHANGE with DOUBLE DE-CLUTCH thus taking the last bend at full road speed but back in middle gear. Fifty yards latter under firm braking we were back in the pit lane, the doors having slid forward and slammed shut under braking. We disembarked in silence.

“You know mate (an honorific address), no one has ever gone round that fast before”. As the engine went back to sleep and the white-hot heat of technology cooled, I was given my pass. I suppose they now drive German or Japanese vans which start with a voice command.

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